April is Earth Month and National Poetry Month. So I thought this is the perfect time to showcase today’s Perfect Picture Book. I hope you agree!
Title: I Am the Storm
Written By: Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Illustrated By: Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell
Publisher/Date: Rise x Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020
Suitable for Ages: 3-5 and older
Themes/Topics: natural disasters, resilience, nature
When the wind howled and blew, loud as a train,/ we had a party in the basement with Grandma, reading books and playing games with the flashlight.
In a series of fictional vignettes, young children and their families experience and survive natural disasters.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about weather and the climate;
- Try these weather-related experiments;
- I Am the Storm showcases four families who live through four different natural disasters: a tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane. Have you ever lived through a natural disaster? Draw a picture to show how you felt.
- Check out the Back Matter to learn more about these natural disasters.
Why I Like this Book:
In I Am the Storm, four young children and their families survive four different natural disasters. With short, lyrical text and repeated phrases, Yolen and Stemple show what each family does as the natural disaster rages. And after the disasters, because, as the authors reassure readers, these disasters always stop, the children help clean up and help others, mimicking the disasters with their actions, “howling and blowing like the wind,” tossing “big handfuls of snow”, swaying “like a slow beautiful flame”, and returning home. Addressing readers, the authors acknowledge, “It’s okay to be scared.” But they remind readers, too, that they can be “strong and powerful” like nature, and afterwards, calm.
Illustrated with an inclusive array of characters and representing a variety of settings, I Am the Storm is an important book for kids who live in regions where natural disasters are prevalent, which is many places these days, or who are dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters or any type of traumatic event (which is most of us, after this COVID-dominated year).
The Howdeshells use sweeping, earth-toned double-page spreads to show both the disasters and the calmer scenes afterwards.
A Note about Craft:
With four distinct main characters facing four different natural disasters, in four varied settings, how did Yolen and Stemple tie these disparate stories together and craft a cohesive picture book? Using the same format for each, disaster strikes and families hunker down and amuse themselves together, followed by post-disaster clean up, with a repeated phrase “as…always do,” the authors show the resilience of each main character. And by acknowledging that it’s okay to be scared, and showing how these kids, and the readers, possess storm-like qualities, they offer hope to readers that they, too, will overcome these temporary disasters.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!